CultureSmash 2011

18 Mar

My friends, for the last few / several / however many days, I have been buried deep in a bunker of thought, introspection and professional advancement at a marketing conference focusing on the question of the consumer’s self-image and its effect on rationalised sales data. As you can imagine, my head feels like it’s been fucked by a horse.

Over the course of this conference, several significant thoughts have occurred unto me. First, I have no fucking clue what the consumer’s self-image has to do with rationalised sales data. Not one. Not even a small slice of half of a clue. Second, I have no fucking clue what rationalised sales data is. Third, I should NEVER agree to attend a conference without first checking whether there will be booze there. A conference in a ‘dry county’, as the Yanks call them, is a fundamentally stupid idea. In fact, it’s FUCKING stupid. I’d go as far as to say it’s more stupid than Robbie Williams.

The most striking thought to…er…strike me, however, was this: as a communications expert, marketing thought-leader and advertising inspirationalist, I thought it was about time I stopped going to other people’s conferences and staged my own. I’m in the early planning stages, but I’ve settled on the name CultureSmash. (I originally went for CultureFuck, but my mother (who’s nearly target audience) said it would offend God.)

What I want CultureSmash to be is a completely 360 imaginarium that brings together experts from the worlds of advertising and communications, social media and branding, and puts them in a cross conversational environment with members of a range of other everyday professions – doctors, teachers, postmen, strippers, nurses, sexworkers, massage professionals, eroticians and so on. You know – just a cross-section of the public.

What a conference room at CultureSmash might look like if this was the type of room I actually booked.

What I also want CultureSmash to be is the conference that end-games the sectorised reliance on silo-specific jargon. I want it to establish a commercial and social truth in and pertaining to the methodologies, strategies and conventionalised behaviour-patterns surrounding the societal deployment of online social tools.

I can’t make it any clearer than that, really. I think.

A smaller conference room of the sort that may or may not be available at CultureSmash. Imagine if it was available, though, eh? Imagine if it was!

Here’s a tentative agenda for the day, based on my experience of conferences, and my firm beliefs about how they should be organised.

Friday (date TBC), 12.30pm

Meet and greet at Dog & Hog, or Radish Bar, or Dog Bar, or God Bar (depends one which I haven’t been ‘de-customered’ from on the day).

An informal session that will give delegates the chance to get to know one another in an informal setting. Drinks available at delegates’ own expense.

Friday, 7.30pm

Keynote Speech

With the informal meet and greet out of the way, delegates are welcomed to the main venue where Dave Knockles will deliver the Key Note Speech: Emulsifying The Now. Disseminating The Future. (I came up with that in the bath. Once I work out what the fuck it mean, I’m pretty sure it’ll be amazing.)

Friday, 7.40pm

Networking at Delilaz Executive Dance Bar

Keynote Speech over, it’s time to let our hair down. Delilaz, my preferred erotic lady bar, has agreed to lay on some fish paste sandwiches and a selection of executive vol-oh-vonts. (And if I know Delilaz, those crazy, naughty, over-enthusiastic, borderline law-abiding girls will be dishing out handjobs for 45 notes a go! They are incorrigible!)

This is your chance to really cut loose before the Army-standard schedule I’ll be enforcing tomorrow.)

Saturday, 3.30pm

Breakfast

No fucking about. NONE. If you had a lager shandy too many last night, tough shit. I will personally be rousing delegates with a visit to your hotel room. You think I’m joking? I’m not! I’ll probably be in one of your hotel rooms come morning anyway! HA HA! (Seriously, though, I won’t be booking myself a room so I am expecting a bunk-up.) We really need to be up and about by 3.30pm. Well, okay, let’s be reasonable, 5pm. Or…let’s think about this…everyone will need a shower and shit and a bit of a rest, then a cup of tea…okay – let’s say breakfast is at 7pm on Saturday, but NO LATER. Unless you’re late.

Saturday, evening-ish

Seminars and shit

I mean, what does ‘evening’ mean? Could be 6pm for some people! Could be 11pm for others. Let’s just stay in touch. Text me, I’ll pick it up. Anyway, I’ll have all these rooms booked, so let’s use them. I’ll do a seminar on, like, ads and shit, and you lot can fill in the rest, right? Just sort it out amongst yourselves and…you know…have fun! Just make sure that by the end of it, we’ve got an answer to all the major media, digital and advertising problems of the age. Yes? Agreed? Good.

Saturday, later…like…whenever

Networking

You really have no idea how important networking is. So let’s fucking network our tits off.

Sunday, all day

Sunday will be devoted to calm reflection, analysis of the issues facing us as a society and some other stuff I will fill in soon. Above all, it’s about calm reflection. For fuck’s sake. Calm. No noise. Just sit there and shut the fuck up.

I think that works, right? Let me know if you fancy it and I’ll put it on a long list of things I need to get round to.

I am Dave Knockles! And I am the king of the conference!

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How to own a meeting

9 Mar

I know you lot. You are professional, talented, motivised, enthusergetic and driven to achieve your short, medium and long-term career ambition goal targets. Of course you are. That’s why you’re reading this blog.

So let me give you a little bit of advice on how to get to the top faster. (Not as fast as me, obviously. It took me just 17 years to go from marketing manager to marketing director. This is unprecedented in the world of marketing and has never been repeated.)

I want to help you do the one thing that will make you stand out against the herd of moronic dickpipes you work with. I want to help you own every mothershitting meeting you attend.

Is this toolbag really owning this meeting? No. One of those other dickpoles should seize the moment and shout something like 'PROFITABILITY!' or get their tits out.

But what does ‘owning a meeting’ mean? Simple. It means that no matter what people went into that meeting room to discuss, they leave talking about you. YOU!

So, what’s the first thing you need to do when you want to own a meeting? You need to prepare, right? You need to research the subject of the meeting and be as informed as you can be when you go in, right?

WRONG!

Planning to own a meeting just means you’ll look like a fucking know-it-all spunk flannel who’s got an answer for everything, never looks flustered and seems to have a finger on the pulse of everything affecting the business. And who wants to look like that? YAWN! No. Owning a meeting Knockles-style means being spontaneous, thinking on your feet and – ideally – having a few cheeky pots of booze-flavoured liquid at lunch. (This will help you stay loose and improve confidence. Remember – they say the English are always two drinks behind the rest of the world in terms of confidence. So if you have four drinks, you’ll technically only have had two drinks, if you apply international standards, which you should.)

So, you’re in the meeting room, people are filing in, things are about to get going. What do you do? You look for a dominant position.

This means at the head of the table, to the right of the chairperson, or, best of all, standing imposingly behind them, just a little too close for their comfort. (I always measure it like this: if you got an erection mid-meeting (which can happen) then if it poked them gently in the ear, you’re the right distance away.) I always find that lurking menacingly behind someone while they’re trying to do something constructive with a room full of people will always undermine them.

Why do you want to undermine them? Well, that’s the first tip! Try to undermine absolutely everything the chairperson is saying, always. If you’re standing right behind them, you can do this simply with sarcastic facial expressions or obscene hand gestures, but any method is fine. If you’re sitting with everyone else, you can interrupt, chortle, wear an almost-disgusted look of confusion that lets everyone know you’re thinking ‘What? What the fuck are you talking about, you incompetent cuntslice?’ This makes you the king / queen / transgender monarch of the meeting. Never mind the dickbottle who’s trying to run the meeting and achieve something for the company and blah blah blah. His inability to own the meeting is his problem, not yours. You’re just doing the Dave Knockles Do, right the way to the top of the tree!

She's lurking right behind the guy trying to run the meeting, where she's free to make faces, shake her head at everything he says and mouth the word 'Wanker' constantly. She's owning the meeting!

How about owning a meeting when someone tries to own it off you? What if some fucker is trying to own your meeting? Well, it’s time to go nuclear. The very nano-second you think your authority is being challenged, do one of these three things: 1) smash your fist on the table and shout ‘FOCUS!’, 2) stand up very suddenly and hiss the word ‘Waaaiiit!’ while looking to the ceiling as though receiving divine inspiration, 3) start quietly repeating the word ‘agenda’ again and again and again while poking the printed agenda in front of you, making a kind of semi-audible wall of sound that will, if you keep going, make everybody stop talking and look at you, at which point you can say, ‘Can we get back to the agenda?’ (It doesn’t matter if you were on the agenda, incidentally. People are usually so amazed at how cool your are they just stare and, occasionally, get up and leave.)

Everyone is looking at you! Congratulations! Consider this meeting owned! By you. Not that dirty old boiler at the Nobo. Everyone knows she let Phil in sales bend one through her fudgehole in the disabled bogs on seven.

What about meetings where you’re the lowest member of the food chain? This only happens to me these days when I’m in a meeting with my MD, Big Andy Poleman, but you, being corporate plankton, probably struggle with this a lot. My advice is to avoid the obvious. Don’t do a load of research and try to sound clever or useful or like you’ve got potential. They’ll just nick what you said, claim it as their own and you’ll still be floating about at the bottom of the cesspool in five years. You need to get on their wavelength – which probably means golf, birds, beerz and, if the mood of the meeting is jocular, stories about the time you shat yourself.

By way of example, let me tell you what I said as a marketing manager at my first board meeting back in 1988. The CEO had just told us the sales figures and asked for ways we could improve them. I’d had 8 drinks (by international standards) so was very keen. So I said,

‘Never mind improving the sales figures – how about improving your swing? From what I hear, you’re so short off the tee, you might as well use a cunting snooker cue! It’s probably that fucking bird of yours, isn’t it? She’d sap anyone’s strength – I bet you bang her till she snaps, don’t you? Jesus! The fucking tits on it! I bet your wife would take one look and say, ‘Fuck me – fair enough. Carry on!’ The boys reckon you putt like a parkinson’s sufferer too! But that’s because you drink like a fucking fish, innit? I opened your desk drawer and it was like a fucking branch of Threshers in there! There was more booze than I drank when I shat myself all over the barman, barmaid, manager, waitress, customers and passers-by at the Dog & Hog! Aaaanyway, I think we could look at some short-term promotions to give the numbers a boost.’

And just 16 years later, I was Marketing Director. (It might have been sooner. Turns out that after the meeting my CEO’s wife left him, he was ejected from his golf club and shunned by his colleagues, his heavy drinking descended into full-blown alcoholism and he lived the remaining five years of his life under a canal bridge in a turnip field in Kent. Oopsie!)

Those are just a few ways to own a meeting. But however you do it, own it you must! Otherwise, you’ll just be another stupid prick trying to get ahead by being good at your job.

I am Dave Knockles! And I own your meeting!

The big idea

8 Mar

I know what you're thinking. 'Ha! A light bulb? What a cliche!' But how can it be a cliche when I'm using it? It can't! Why? Because I'm one step ahead of all you fuckers - and I say light bulbs are back. So go bang yourself. With a brick.

Advertising agencies – yeah, those fuckers – seem to have this thing about ‘big ideas’. They’re all about the big idea. Big ideas, they tell me over the course of 224 agonising slides, are the future. If you’ve got an idea that isn’t big, well, take it out into the car park, beat it without mercy or a moment’s guilt about the face and neck, then wrap it’s head in cling film and chuck it down a fucking well. Small ideas? Small ideas deserve to be treated with genocidal contempt.

Which is all well and good, but then you see what they actually mean by ‘a big idea’.

The ‘big’ bit of a ‘big idea’ doesn’t actually mean that the idea itself is big. Like E=MC2 is big. Or ‘I think therefore I am’ is big. Or Pot Noodles is big (massive, actually). No, no – that’s no what they mean.

What they mean is the idea they’ve had is so bland they can make it fit into any size of ad, on the telly, in radio, online and as an annoying piece of bin-fodder that falls out of the magazine you’d taken into the bogs to have a nice jostle over.

(Actually – funny story. I once nipped to the executive washroom for a quick fumble over the latest copy of whatever lads mag was winning the porn race at that stage. I dropped the trousers and moved the undercrackers to mid-calf, parked myself on the lav and tore open the litte plastic sac the mag came in. Obviously, there was a snowstorm of junk, vouchers and BOGOF pamphlets – and one of the items (I can’t be sure which) caught me with it’s sharply-folded corner right on the bell-portion. Well, you know how nasty paper cuts can be. This was a doozy! Blood everywhere. I probably shouldn’t have gone ahead with the wank, really. But I did. And the cubicle looked like a slaughterhouse at the end of it. (Well, a slaughterhouse someone had been wanking in.) Told you it was a funny story!)

Where was I?

Yes – the ‘big idea’. I was once taken through a presentation of…oooh….over 4,000 slides that lead to what they described as ‘a genuinely BIG idea’. When we got there, I was shown a little cartoon dog (called ‘Squoochie’ – still don’t know why) and then several dozen pieces of differently-sized creative with the dog in various whimsical poses saying things like ‘Squoochie loves clean’ and ‘Squoochie needs soft’ and ‘Squoochie wants gentle’.

Squoochie, obviously, would have his own Facebook page and Twitter feed and every  woman in the Western world would sign up to interact with my brand through a series of heartwarming conversations.

Another time, I was shown a big idea that consisted of the words ‘You are dirty’ rendered in ‘knowingly naive typography’, then placed on literally every type of media ever devised. They even showed it to me plastered on a baby. A BABY. Bambinovertising, they called it. ‘We just want to show you how big this idea is,’ they said. (Actually, bambinovertising is brilliant. I tried using it for a Durex campaign once. The babies would have the words ‘Or you could have had a new car’ stencilled on them, just above the Durex logo – right on their foreheads. Did anyone offer their babies for it? No. I just do NOT understand people sometimes.)

Anyway, let me tell you what the biggest idea in advertising is: bristolas. Nobody has ever come up with a more flexible, more powerful or more broadly appealing idea than the female nork. And that’s the end of the story. If you think I’m wrong, you can take your big idea and wham it sidewards up your fudge-tube until it pokes out of your ears.

I am Dave Knockles! And I’M a fucking big idea!

A French restaurant reviewed

1 Mar

My friends, I am fast becoming known as Britain’s leading gastronaut, food ponce, nosh bard and culinarianite. This is because when I review a restaurant, the fucker stays reviewed. I’ll review it’s face off, then go back and review it until it’s just twitching and coughing up bits of poppadom and cheese.

That’s not all, mind. My growing reputation is also down to my vast food knowledge. For instance, I know what Pot Noodle is made of. You do not. And I’m not fucking telling you either. Suffice to say, it comes as a surprise. I also know that a balti is the traditional cuisine of Birmingham and has been enjoyed there for at least three decades. Its principle ingredients are meat, sauce and miscellaneous.

However, I must confess there is one part of the culinary landscape upon which I have never really planted a boot. Or a fork. Or a…I haven’t eaten it, is what I mean. I’m talking about French food.

I had always considered French food to be a mix of the farmyard and the butcher’s floor. (Though that may be down to my mother’s constant suspicion of the French people. ‘Never trust people who eat udders!’ she would yell at the television, often while it was switched off.) Apart from the baguette, which is the best breakfast containment device known to man (fill it with bacon, sausage, tomato, bacon, cheese, waffles, ham, eggs benedict, burgers, cornflakes, coffee, fried bread and balti and you’ll see what I mean), French food hadn’t found its way onto my plate.

That changed when I was taken to a restaurant in London, possibly the centre of London, possibly not, called Something de la Something a la Something du Something avec Something. Or something. I forget. Anyway, I was told it was a typical bistro-style place, and that the food was very typically French. Some of it, my host told me, ‘might be challenging’.

Well, I’d visited a couple of bars, pubs, clubs, lapdance emporia and moonshine dens before our lunch, so I was ready for a challenge. ‘Fucking challenging?’ I said. ‘What, it thinks it’s going to scare me off? Where is this cunt? I’ll tear its neck off.’ After a brief nap in the lavs, though, I had calmed down and was ready to eat. Although I did have another little nap first.

A quick survey of the menu told one thing straight away: the French will go to great lengths not to eat the bits of animals most of us consider to be nice. For instance, they eat bits of an ox’s face. They eat glands. They eat organs. They eat all kinds of silly shit.

So, being a game sort of chap, I was more than happy to tuck into the delicious-looking amuse-bouche that was on my plate when I was finally seated. It was a delightfully pale and gossamer-thin long curl of pastry that seemed to be almost floating on the beautiful crockery. I started to eat, finding it surprisingly chewy and texturally interesting. The waiter approached.

‘Sir,’ he said. ‘You are eating a napkin.’

‘Ah!’ I replied. ‘Well, it’s fucking delicious. Bit tough, mind. Now bring me a bottle of claret immediately, or you’re fucking fired.’

He paused for a moment, as though about to say something, then left shaking his head, as is the tradition with waiters in any restaurant I eat in.

Anyway, let me cut to the chase. The French eat raw stuff. RAW STUFF. I know! RAW! Not cooked, but RAW. Amazing, isn’t it? So, I had a dozen RAW oysters to start. And once I’d worked out that you only eat the snot in the middle, I found them very enjoyable. (The same waiter suggested I stop eating the shells after I’d downed three and coughed up a bit of blood onto the lady at the next table.) Snot isn’t that filling, though, so I had another dozen or so dozens.

Then – most amazingly of all – I had RAW MEAT. They call it Steak Tartare to throw you off the scent, but when it turns up, it’s just raw meat! With – you won’t be able to get your fucking hat on when I tell you this – A RAW FUCKING EGG YOLK ON TOP OF IT!

This is steak tartare and, like a fat jogger’s nipples, it is RAW.

(This is amazing. I have dreamed of and longed for the day when the hygiene standards of the nation would allow me to eat raw meat. BUT I COULD HAVE JUST MOVED TO FRANCE WHERE THEY DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT HYGIENE! Can anything denote manly, quivering, twitching, awe-inspiring executive power like eating raw meat? Can you imagine how profitable I would become on a diet of raw meat?)

Well, I had a good eight of those, all washed down with some raw wine, and finished with a raw cake. ‘But we must cook the cake, sir,’ the waiter implored. But I was having none of it! ‘I WANT IT RAW!’ I yelled. Very nice it was too, if a bit stodgy.

I was so impressed with the idea of eating raw that I  now eat everything uncooked. Pot Noodle, eggs, potatoes, bacon, chicken, liver and onions – all RAW. And the weight is just falling off me! It’s incredible. I mean, I puke pretty much all of the time, but you get used to that. (Whisper it, but I’m thinking of writing a diet book. It could make me fucking millions.)

Anyway, the restaurant is a triumph, and so is my new lifestyle. My scores are thus:

Food: 9 Knockles.

Booze: 9 Knockles.

Waitresses: 2 Knockles.

Overall: 7.5 Knockles.

I’d recommend La Doodoo du Foofoo a la Poff-Paff sur la Biff Boff for a romantic liaison with a woman who had a vomit fetish. Delicieux!

I am Dave Knockles! Et j’aime beaucoup le viande raw!

The PHD film. A client persective.

28 Feb

Well, it’s been a while since the above hit the interwaves and made everybody really very upset indeed. But just like I analysed X-Factor WAY after it had disappeared from the public conscience, so I’ll give my clientcentricsided opinion now. You know, rather than when it was actually relevant.

The film opens with a pretty terrifying demand: If you work in marketing, you’d better start upping your game. Because you’ve never seen anything like us before.

Well, that’s a fact. I have definitely never seen anything like these kids before. It’s perhaps unfair to be critical of people who are still in the first flush of youth, awkwardly growing into their faces, finding their way in the world but…you know…fuck it. I have never seen anything like these kids before. This is the truth. They look they’re from a stage school in fucking Stepford.

Especially this kid:

And this one:

And this one:

Terrifying. All of them. Especially the last one. That dental work looks like it was done by  a James Bond villain.

Anyway, that aside, these little tinkers are telling me I have to ‘up my game’. What I say to that, simply, is NO I FUCKING DON’T. I’m at the top of my game, as everyone who’s anybody in marketing knows. (And I know that’s a FACT because I’m the only person who’s anybody in marketing, and I definitely think I’m at the top of my game. HA! Argue with that, PHD, you fuckers!)

Anyway, the reason I need to up my game is because these kids want to be able to click on hotels and skirts, or something, and there will be social media aggregators or something, and I need to give them smart, tailored content, and interacting with ads by voice, or something, and…well, it’s the usual stuff innit? The world’s about to end and we’d better all pull our trousers up round our necks, give our balls one last tickle and dive into the nearest bin.

What’s interesting for me, though, is that this pile of dispicible old wank was created by an agency. An agency! You know – the people who are always telling me that I know nothing about advertising and that if they didn’t have sole access to the Lost Secrets of Creative locked in the Castle of Strategy beyond The Unfathomable Swamp of Planning, then I’d produce really rubbish ads. You know, ads as terribly, unremittingly awful as the one PHD did.

In fact, it strikes me that whenever an agency produces anything for itself, you can be confident they’ll produce a turd. Possibly a turd nestling on a bed of donkey spunk. Look at that rash of knob-scrapingly awful agency singalong videos that cropped up a while back. Look at most agency websites. Where’s the fucking creative genius now, you cuntskittles?

I am Dave Knockles. And I think PHD need to up their fucking game, the cheeky cuntpipes.

Teflon Dave’s Guide to The Blame Game

21 Feb

I’ve been a marketing guru / marketing legend / marketing node / marketing pioneer / marketing trailblazer / marketing powerhouse for many, many years. I’ve see them come, and I’ve seen them go. I’ve been around the block, bought the T-shirt, seen the sights, written the book, broken the mould and paid my dues – usually by direct debit from my account at the Bank of Get Fucking Stuck In And Do It This Is Real Life Not A Fucking Rehearsal.

Obviously, I haven’t made it this far by being a useless cunt, or a pointless cackspanner, or a talentless dickpipe. I’ve got the skills to pay the bills. I’ve got the brains to clear the drains (I made that one up myself). I’ve got the right stuff.

Occasionally, however (saaay, twice a week), the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan. Things happen, problems arise, shit goes down, I forget a meeting, I lose an entire year’s sales figures, and entire campaign is wasted because I’m up to my neck in slags and lunch and let it go to air with the words ‘angry clitoris’ in the voiceover – the usual stuff that befalls us all.

And when that happens, Teflon Dave comes out to play and makes sure that shit doesn’t stick. (Except the time when I did suffer an explosive anal prolapse, as I am prone to do, and their was an air conditioning unit behind me. That time, the shit really did hit the fan and then, to my lasting regret, hit everybody within 40 feet. Which was a lot of people. It was in the canteen. Weirdly, though, none hit me! People didn’t really see that as a silver lining, no matter how much I tried to explain. They were, I suppose, more interested in picking the fecal matter out of their yoghurt.)

Is there a blame egg coming your way? Develop a teflon coating and it'll slide right off you, and slap bang into someone else's full-English of fuck.

Where was I?

Ah! Yes – Teflon Dave. I have developed a number of strategies that help me evade any unwarranted aprobation, criticism or disciplinary action. Here are a few.

The Look of Disappointment

Something’s gone horribly wrong. Perhaps someone, naming no names, has had a little too much Pernod and scotch over lunch and done a sick in the office microwave. And turned it on, filling the entire building with the oppressive, stomach-churning stench of cooked puke. Naturally, there’ll be the usual inquisition. If the head witchfinder asks ANYONE whether they did it, you must seize the moment. Look at them with an expression that says, ‘Oh, Sharon. I tried so hard for you. You have broken my heart’ while shaking your head. You might also mutter under your breath, ‘I did wonder, but I just didn’t want to believe it.’

Of course, don’t do this if it’s YOU being accused. You’ll just look mad. If that happens, try this…

The Sarcastic Confession

It goes, ‘Yes, Jason. Yes. It was me. Of course it was. I did it. It was me who left the top secret new product reports in a boozer right next to the offices of our local rivals. I did. Yes. Absolutely. Pfft.’

If you’re withering enough (and I can be fucking withering) then your inquisitor will fuck right off and hassle someone else. Also, technically you’ve confessed and they’ve done nothing about it – something worth remembering when you get grassed up and it’s tribunal time.

What about those fuck-ups that you realise you’ve made before anyone else does? Try this…

The Hospital Pass

You know you accidentally deleted an entire year’s worth of sales data. But nobody else does. So, quick as you can, fire off an email to an underling you don’t like. (Or, even better, one you got pregnant, dumped by text and have been avoiding like the plague because she’s been threatening to go rogue on you.) Keep it simple. ‘I need all last year’s sales data printed, bound and on my desk asap.’ Inside two minutes, the sacrificial lamb will be in your office saying that the data’s all gone. ‘WHAT?’ you roar. ‘IT WAS THERE FIVE MINUTES AGO! WHAT HAVE YOU FUCKING DONE? DON’T YOU KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THAT DATA IS TO THE ONGOING AMELIORATION OF OUR BOTTOM LINE SCENARIO?’

A week later they’re a distant memory and you’re sitting in a bath of water that went cold hours ago with an empty bottle of scotch, whimpering ‘That was too close’ again and again and again, trying to convince yourself that you’re not hopelessly, desperately, irredeemably out of your depth and that the gaping chasm of dread and insecurity that opens in you the second you get to work will somehow fade if you, like, do some exams or something.

That’s what YOU’D do. It’s not what I do. No way. Obviously.

I am Dave Knockles! And I am forged from teflon!

Advertising agencies and The Little Cake Spiral.

18 Feb

I’ve worked with a few ad agencies in my time. Actually, I’ve pretty much worked with every ad agency in my time. (I mostly have to fire them because I can come up with better ads than they can, and they don’t like that and they call me a dickspanner or a shitbox or whatever and throw things at me. Happens all the time.)

Anyway, I’ve spent enough time in these places to know that they have one significant problem. I call it The Little Cake Spiral.

(That’s right – little cakes. Yesterday it was chronic masturbation, today it’s little fucking cakes. If you have a problem with that, go shit in your hat.)

Ooooh! You got little cakes! Lovely! Is this all there is? Only my last agency also offered frangipane tarts.

I’ll explain.

Ad agencies spend a lot of time being ‘unorthodox’, right? Because they’re creative places where everyone is different and special and not like the rest of us. Now, part of this ‘unorthodoxy’ is doing things that begin with the words ‘Fuck it…’ coming from the mouth of the stuffed shirt who runs the place. ‘Fuck it, let’s get everyone a space hopper.’ ‘Fuck it, let’s go to Valencia for the tomato festival.’ ‘Fuck it, let’s buy a Harley and hang it from the boardroom ceiling.’

These Fuck-Its are all designed to signal to the world that the agency (and the crazy, crazy guy who runs it) is unorthox. After all, what could be a more unorthodox way to run a business than do something that no business in their right mind would do? Because business is all about making big walletfuls of bottom line, right? So what kind of shitcrazy nutball fuckmental wild man would take that bottom line and devote it to…oh, I dunno…taking the entire agency to Miami to watch a solar eclipse?

When there are a lot of Fuck-Its happening at the top of the agency, it permeates throughout the whole company. And it starts with little cakes. Little cakes are required for every meeting. There are always little cakes. Well, there were. Adland, for all its self-appointed pioneering uniquitude (that IS a word), is actually like a class of 30 8-year old girls. When one gets a pink mobile phone, they all get a pink mobile phone. Then one gets a better pink mobile phone, they all get a better pink mobile phone.

So, in a hectic race to both keep up and stay one step ahead, the little cakes were quickly joined by other confectionary. Croissants, for instance. And muffins. And then Fairtrade chocolate truffles, organic hand-made shortbread, artisan breads, fresh fruit, mango juice squeezed between the bristolas of Caribbean courtesans, and so on. Pretty much every meeting I go to these days has a spread on the table like the fucking harvest festival at St Pauls.

We thought we'd make the little cakes in your corporate colour! I KNOW! It IS soooo cute!

Of course, the little cake spiral then spins out of meetings and into other areas of agency life. Go to a shoot and someone will bring you a fucking bento box every fifteen minutes without fail. Go to an edit and you get the bento box PLUS a range of confectionary of sweetshop proportions. Go to a photo shoot and you get the bento boxes, the confectionary and vast, slopping vats of coffee.

Go to an agency on a Friday afternoon and somewhere in the building, a ‘tradition’ involving champagne, treats, nibbles, nice things, lovely bits and bobs, gorgeous whatnots and delectable fancies will be happening. And it always happens, because it’s an agency tradition. Then the agency will head for the juicer, where a company tab will get them all pie-eyed and randy.

(You might think, by the way, that all this Louis XVI-style decadence would breed an industry of clammy doughball fatsos. But the agency folk don’t actually consume any of it. I do. You bet your blue bollockbag I do. It’s FREE FOOD. Personally, I think that if you don’t eat free food, you’ve lost touch with your animal instincts and you have evolved into a different species. You are no longer part of the animal kingdom. You are more akin to a plant, living on fucking water, water, water. Do you think dogs would sniff a free bento box with mild disdain and then take another swig of their 34th bottle of mineral water that day? No. They’d pile in. I’m with the dogs.)

The cost to the agency of The Little Cake Spiral is, obviously, massive. So the cost to the client – ME – is equally exorbitant. I’d say about 97% of the hourly rate of my account director (which at the moment is about £45,900 or something) is down to The Little Cake Spiral. The rest is actual work.

What? This? Oh, this is nothing! This is just a little something to nibble on before we take you to lunch.

But then there’s the effect it has on the work the agencies produce. Is it any surprise that 90% of advertising is wishy-washy happy bullshit that isn’t actually about anything when the people who create it get everything free? Everything’s cool, right? We’ve got little cakes! Let’s make this ad for half-price bog roll about a girl wandering wistfully through a forest thinking about a boy. Because that’s the feeling half-price bog roll gives you! At the end we’ll have the line ‘It is beautiful’ and your logo and ‘Now half-price’ in 5-point type for 4 frames because we don’t want to patronise the audience, do we.  Isn’t it GREAT? The creative guys have really worked hard on this one. And the fact that some coked-rotted creative director at a cooler agency told them they needed more ads with girls wandering through a forest on their reel had nothing to do with the creative route they chose. Pass the client some of those yummy little champagne choc-chocs! No, I won’t thanks.

Luckily, there are mavericks like me around to prick the balloon of pomposity that these fuckers live in. Well, I will prick it once I’ve got through these little cakes. And all this other stuff. Burp. Actually, thinking about it, The Little Cake Spiral is fucking brilliant. Pass the foie gras pasties!

I am Dave Knockles! And I like little cakes!